10 Questions with ... Elle King
December 8, 2014
1. Where does this interview find you today?
I am getting ready to perform on "Late Night with Seth Meyers"!
2. Can you remember the moment when you wanted to be a musician?
You know, it's hard to pinpoint that one moment where I knew. I've always known. I used to dream about being on big stages, hearing an audience sing along with me. This is what I am supposed to do. I can't do anything else really. Except bake cupcakes.
3. Were your parents all supportive of your music aspirations?
OOOOOhhhhhhh!! I love this question. I was raised by my mother and my step-dad, London and Justin. I started playing violin at about four or five. My mom always told me to do what made me happy, so when I wanted to learn a new instrument she'd get me any lesson I wanted. So piano and voice was next, then guitar. Justin was the lead singer of a dirty rock 'n' roll band when they met. So I grew up with a pretty incredible record collection in my house. I could play them as long as I put them back in alphabetical order. My dad Justin taught me how to play my first few songs on guitar. You know, "Sweet Home Alabama," "Shake It Up Baby," "Lola" by the Kinks.
Then one of his buddies used to come over once a week and teach me how to play any song I wanted to learn. Joachim Kearns. He's a bad ass. I kept playing guitar and it took me about eight years to really get my rhythm and confidence going. Playing in the streets of Philly was really good for that. I used to make up songs for people walking by, hoping they'd give me and my friends money for beer. It worked! So I picked up the banjo when I needed a new challenge and now I play a whole mess of things. What's that old saying? "I'm a jack of all trades, but a master of none."
4. Tell us how important that moment when your stepfather gave you The Donnas album was to your musical career?
My friends really make fun of me for this. I wanted the Shaggy CD in like 5th or 6th grade. My dad Justin came home and threw The Donnas' American Teenage Rock n Roll album on the bed. I was so pissed. After a day or two of walking past it on my floor, I finally put it into my lime green boom box. I really do remember that day so well. My eyes got all wide and the music made me feel like I was doing something I shouldn't be doing. I listened to that CD... let's just say an embarrassing amount.
I was in Austin recently in a little bar and the CD came on! THE WHOLE CD! I looked at my tour manager and was like, THIS IS IT! This is the album. Man they kicked ass. Then I started on a fun journey of punk rock. I see the next question so I'm going to just segue into that...
5. How have your music tastes changed over the years?
I really listen to music until I can't listen to it anymore. So I go through some serious phases. Middle school was all punk rock. The few high schools I went to in New York City led me down all sorts of paths. Hip hop, old school rock, shit I even had a disco phase. But my roots are sewn in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, so traditional country and old standards from those days have always been a part of me. And then obviously I am obsessed with R&B. I like to think Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding are my set of a devil and an angel on my shoulders telling me what to do. I try my best to take their advice, even if they do get me in trouble.
6. Where did the inspiration come from for your latest single, "Ex's & Oh's"?
Kissin' all them boys!
7. What is your favorite song of yours to perform now? What about your favorite song to cover?
Man, I love playing "Ex's & Oh's" now. We've waited a long time to get to play it, so me and the boys are all excited to be playing new stuff. But "Good For Nothing Woman" is another really fun fast song. It's not on the album, but we play it anyways just cuz. We always mess around with different covers, too.
8. Who are your favorite musicians today?
Heard of Kishi Bashi? I'm gonna put him on while I finish this interview. I've had a crush on the banjo player. He's insane. But I cried the times at their show. Completely blown away.
9. Living or dead, who would you love to work with and why?
That's easy. Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley
10. Is there anything in particular that you'd like people to take away from listening to your music?
I make music from the depths of my soul and the bottom of my heart. I can only be myself, and I put it out there because there is so much beauty in vulnerability. Even though some of my songs can sound tough, if you listen, they come from a place of hurt and, most times, my songs are my way of getting over or through something.
So if someone connects with my music, even if it's just one song, then that right there is what I want people to take away from it. That interpersonal connection. That's what it's all about. I put myself on stage and share my feelings, and people come to listen. They get something from me, and I get something from them. We are all in this together. I don't just make music for me, I make it for all of you too.